Interview: Bombardier promises CSeries jet is on track

TORONTO Thu Jun 6, 2013 5:15pm EDT

Bombardier unveils its CSeries aircraft at a news conference at its assembly facility in Mirabel, Quebec, March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Bombardier unveils its CSeries aircraft at a news conference at its assembly facility in Mirabel, Quebec, March 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Christinne Muschi

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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's Bombardier Inc. (BBDb.TO) expects no more delays to its C$3.4 billion ($3.30 billion) CSeries jetliner program, the plane maker's challenge to industry leaders Airbus EAD.PA and Boeing Co. (BA.N), a senior executive said on Thursday.

"This is a done deal program," Mike Arcamone, president of the Montreal plane maker's commercial aircraft division, told Reuters in an interview.

"If I look at our competition, I'm at least a year and a half ahead. We're nowhere announcing any delay. And that's something new for the aviation industry."

The aviation industry has been plagued by production delays that have often lasted years, with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner the most notable recent example.

Bombardier delayed the CSeries' maiden flight by six months last November due to supplier problems.

The CSeries touts cutting-edge technology that makes it more fuel efficient and offers lower operating costs than its closest competitor. But many buyers are holding back.

Arcamone said the aircraft will have its maiden flight by the end of the month and enter service a year from now.

Bombardier on Wednesday confirmed a firm order from Ilyushin Finance Co. that brought the firm order book to 177, more than halfway to its 300-order target for mid-2014.

Arcamone said that demonstrated customer confidence in the plane and its development program.

Executives have hinted that more announcements will come at the June 17-23 Paris Air Show, including details of a previously undisclosed customer for the 110-seat version of the CSeries.

"I can tell you that Paris will be an exciting time for us," Arcamone said.

The single-aisle CSeries family, which seats between 110 and 160 passengers, is Bombardier's largest plane to date and its big gamble on a what it believes will be a flourishing 100-200 seat aircraft market.

Arcamone expects Canadian short-haul carrier Porter Airlines' conditional order for up to 30 CS100 aircraft to be firm by the end of this year, which would bring the order total to about 200 planes.

($1 = 1.0318 Canadian dollars)

(Editing by Janet Guttsman and Dan Grebler)

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